This is the fourth post in a series – start here.
Definition of Strategy (as a skill or activity):
Strategy is the
dynamic processpractice of making, implementing and reviewing big-picture plans (strategies) with the intention of increasing the chances or speed at which you’ll achieve your major goals.
In the spirit of refinement through iteration and with a hat-tip to Seth Godin for bringing it front-of-mind, I’m leaning towards the revision above: “dynamic process” becomes “practice of making, implementing and reviewing.”
“Practice” retains the sense of process (and hopefully dynamism) with an added sense both of settled purpose and professionalism (as in, “a doctor’s practice,” or “my meditation practice.”) A practice is something we commit to doing, regularly enough and well enough that it starts to shape us. We are strategists now just because we are able to do it, but because we do do it – we’re practitioners.
Better all the time
Practice also has the bonus sense of “something you do to get better at something.” Strategy-as-practice allows for the idea that this is something we can get better at, both by doing it and by learning and thinking about it (for example, by writing about it).
It turns out that the idea of strategy as practice is a fairly well established – but still alternative – approach to thinking about strategy. Here’s a nice summary:
Strategy as Practice (SAP) research draws on sociological perspectives to study the micro-activities of strategy work. Rather than seeing strategy as something that organisations have, SAP conceptualises strategy as something that people do; through everyday activity with tools, materials and each other.Strategy as Practice – Aston Business School
Strategy-as-practice research focuses on the micro-level social activities, processes and practices that characterize organizational strategy and strategizing… Strategy as practice can be regarded as an alternative to the mainstream strategy research via its attempt to shift attention away from a ‘mere’ focus on the effects of strategies on performance alone to a more comprehensive, in-depth analysis of what actually takes place in strategy formulation, planning and implementation and other activities that deal with the thinking and doing of strategy.Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice – Introduction
I think they’re onto something.